The NYPD Is Investigating After A Car Drove Through A Black Lives Matter Protest In Times Square

A woman who said she was in the car told BuzzFeed News she and others inside “drove through” protesters because they feared for their lives.

New York City police are investigating after a car drove through a group of protesters during a Black Lives Matter protest in Times Square Thursday night.

A video of the incident shows a black car with a push bar — a structure attached to the front of the car that many official police vehicles are outfitted with — driving through a group of protesters who were blocking the street.

In the video, the car approaches the group, whose members attempt to slow its progress. It then slows down, before suddenly speeding up, pushing through them.

Car drives through protesters, Times Square, New York City, Thursday, September 3, 2020

In an interview with WNYC Friday, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said that no injuries were reported from the incident. He said that the department is investigating whether or not a crime had been committed.

As the video went viral, numerous people on social media pointed out the car's resemblance to an unmarked police vehicle and suspected that law enforcement officers might have been involved, particularly when another video emerged showing NYPD officers helping counterprotesters into the vehicle and protecting them from activists.

just so there’s no more confusion.. the unmarked police car driver through protesters tonight in Times Square? driver by NYPD escorting trump supporters

In a story Friday, WNYC and Gothamist reporters Gwynne Hogan and Jake Offenhartz identified the vehicle in the video as one belonging to pro-NYPD activist Hakim Gibson, whose social media posts show that he was present at the protest.

Gibson, a Black Brooklyn-based photographer, posted a video on Facebook Friday showing himself and two others at the protest, claiming that he and other "law enforcement supporters" were being attacked by BLM activists.

Gibson's Facebook posts also show that he recently purchased a 2013 Ford Taurus. On Aug. 5, he posted a picture of the car where the license plate was visible. The license plate appears to be identical to that of the car shown in the two videos from the protest.

On Wednesday, one day before the protest, Gibson posted a picture of his car, which appears to have been repainted and outfitted with a bolt bar. These changes are consistent with the appearance of the vehicle pictured driving through protesters.

When reached for comment from BuzzFeed News via Instagram messenger, Gibson responded, "Can you guys stop contacting me."

One of the women tagged in Gibson's post from the protest, Juliet Germanotta, told WNYC on Friday afternoon that she had been in the car that "floored it" through protesters.

Germanotta, a transgender rights activist and Trump supporter who is facing criminal charges for defacing a BLM mural at Trump Tower on three separate occasions, told BuzzFeed News in a subsequent interview that Gibson was not at the event to counterprotest, but still offered to drive her and others from the scene when the crowd began to get angry.

Germanotta said that police protected them while they entered the car and directed them to turn down a street away from the protesters, but the protesters then moved to block that street as well, preventing them from leaving (a detail Shea also mentioned in his WNYC interview).

Protesters then surrounded the car and attempted to enter it, she said.

Germanotta said that Gibson and the others in the car panicked when protesters began banging on the car. “They were trying to open the doors. I put my head down, I was freaking out,” she said.

Germanotta said that they “drove through” because they feared for their lives.

She said that Gibson and everyone else in the car turned themselves in to police at the Midtown North precinct at approximately noon on Friday. “They documented everything, took all of our information,” she said.

When asked for comment on the incident and confirmation that police had spoken to those in the car, an NYPD spokesperson declined to respond and would only say that an investigation was ongoing.